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Discovering Human Remains

Report a Discovery of Human Skeletal Remains

Human skeletal remains, grave markers and grave artifacts are inadvertently exposed through natural events, such as erosion and receding flood waters. Archaeological investigations, vegetation clearing, and new construction have also disturbed unmarked and unrecorded human burial areas. The Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act and its administrative codes established protocols to address these accidental discoveries.

Inadvertent discoveries of suspected human bones should be reported to this office and all work must stop until a determination of their origin is made. If possible, leave the bone(s) in place and take several digital photographs of it. Remember to include a scale, such as a pen or ruler, to show the bone’s size. If the bone is human, then the county coroner must be notified within 48 hours of the discovery. If you don’t know the coroner’s contact information, you should notify the sheriff’s department. The coroner’s office will investigate the discovery to determine if the remains represent a recent death and additional investigations are warranted. If the human skeletal remains, grave artifacts, or grave marker are determined to be older than 100 years and not located in a registered cemetery, then jurisdiction is transferred to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency for further investigation.

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